The Raiders were involved in 13 one-possession games last season, winning four of them en route to a 6-11 record.
Based on point spreads posted at Caesars Sportsbook for NFL Weeks 1 through 17, the Raiders are expected to be involved in a lot of close games again this season.
The Raiders are favored to win five games, including four at home, and the spread is two points or less in all of them.
At Allegiant Stadium, they’re -2 over the Steelers, -2 over the Giants, -1½ over the Vikings and -1 over the Packers. On the road, they’re 1½-point favorites at Indianapolis on New Year’s Eve.
They’re underdogs of 4½ points or less in eight games and by two or less in four games: +1 at home vs. the Patriots, +1 at Allegiant against the Chargers, +1½ at Chicago and +2 at home vs. the Jets.
The biggest spreads are against the Chiefs and Bills. The Raiders are 9½-point underdogs at Kansas City on Christmas Day and 5½-point home underdogs to the Chiefs on Thanksgiving weekend. The Raiders are +8 at Buffalo in Week 2.
“The Raiders have a difficult schedule, and they play in a very tough division,” Caesars assistant director of trading Adam Pullen said. “Their (AFC West) division is one of the toughest in football, and now the Broncos are a team that everybody thinks is going to bounce back.
“So it makes sense that they’re going to be involved in a bunch of close games. That’s the way the numbers shook out.”
The Raiders’ regular-season win total is 7½, and the under is a -140 favorite.
“It seems a little high just on the surface, but things change throughout the year,” Pullen said. “As we’ve seen in years past, there are some wacky results. There will be games where they’re underdogs that they’re going to win.”
Pullen and a handful of other sportsbook staff members shared their opinions on all the NFL lines before coming to a consensus number on each game through Week 17.
“Our sharper clientele is really digging into them. Every year, you’re going to have teams that people think we priced wrong,” Pullen said. “There’s a big element of chance, not only from the bookmaker’s perspective but from the bettor’s perspective.
“You see it more in college, but in the NFL, you also could have a big 10-point or two-touchdown move if there’s a big quarterback injury. There’s no guarantee you’re going to have closing-line value if you a bet a Week 15 game in the month of May.”
Pullen said Caesars will eventually post lines on Week 18.
“In Week 18, you never know,” he said. “Usually, if a team is looking like it will be the No. 1 seed and have the bye, they don’t need the game.”
Hail to the Chiefs
The defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs are favorites in all 16 games on the board. But there are a handful of toss-ups, as they’re -2 over the Jets, -3 over the Jaguars, -3½ over the Eagles, -3½ over the Bengals and -4 over the Bills.
The Bengals are underdogs in two games. Besides the AFC championship rematch at Kansas City, they’re 1-point underdogs at San Francisco.
Not in the Cards
The Cardinals are underdogs in all 16 games, but Pullen thinks they deserve a bit more respect.
“I’m a little more bullish on the Cardinals,” he said. “I’m not saying they’ll be a playoff team, but my numbers weren’t as bad as everyone thinks they’ll be.”
The Tom Brady-less Buccaneers are underdogs in all but two games, as they’re -1 over the Panthers and a pick’em against the Titans.
The Texans are underdogs in all but three games, as they’re -2 over Arizona, -1 over Tampa Bay and a pick’em against Indianapolis.